Metroid Dread story gameplay

During the Nintendo Direct for E3 2021, Nintendo officially unveiled the long-rumored Metroid Dread. Over the past 15 years, series producer Yoshio Sakamoto tried to make this game twice but ended up canceling it both times. Now it’s finally becoming a reality on Nintendo Switch with the help of developer MercurySteam. Since the reveal, Nintendo has been trickling out details left and right, so we’ve gathered them all in one convenient place. Here’s everything we know about Metroid Dread!

Story

Metroid Dread is the latest game in the timeline, set after the events of Metroid Fusion. At the end of the GBA adventure, Samus completely eradicated the X parasites. She did this by causing the B.S.L. research station to self-destruct while crashing into planet SR388, the X parasite homeworld. However, this decision went against Galactic Federation orders. As the game ends, Samus worries that she’ll be held accountable. However, Adam, her computer AI, reassures her that someone out there will understand why she had to do it.  

A new look for Samus

During the events of Fusion, Samus was infected by X parasites, and some of the mechanical parts of her suit had to be removed. The remaining organic parts left Samus with the mostly blue Fusion Suit. In Dread, her suit has begun repairing itself, which explains the sleek new look. The organic components are slowly becoming more mechanical, but it’s unclear if this will impact the gameplay. 

Re-emergence of the X Parasites?

Metroid Dread kicks off when Samus decides to investigate planet ZDR. Here’s a recap of her mission, straight from the bounty hunter herself! 

One day, the Galactic Federation received video footage from an unknown source indicating that the X still lived. The Federation dispatched a special unit consisting of seven E.M.M.I. robots to the remote planet ZDR, believed to be the source of the transmission.

Soon after arriving on ZDR, the whole unit mysteriously vanished.

Does the X truly still exist? And just what is happening on ZDR? It’s up to me, the only one immune to the X parasite, to go find out…

It seems that things don’t go as planned when Samus reaches the planet. It’s unclear what exactly happened, but she starts the game in the center of the planet, separated from her ship. She’ll have to fight her way upward to reach the surface. Along the way, she’ll investigate the mysteries of planet ZDR to find out if the X parasites truly have returned. 

ZDR: Planet of the Chozo

Planet ZDR isn’t just any ordinary hunk of rock out in space – it’s a Chozo planet. These ancient, mysterious, and powerful bird-like aliens are crucial to Metroid lore, but are rarely seen in-game. Samus was raised by the Chozo of planet Zebes, but it was later lost to Space Pirates and eventually destroyed. It’s unclear if ZDR is currently inhabited by Chozo, but their statues are everywhere. Save stations, map rooms, recharge stations, and even the first boss room are all adorned with Chozo architecture. There’s also a massive statue in what seems to be the first room in the game. 

At the 1:33 mark of the reveal trailer, we also see a living Chozo that appears to be speaking and operating some sort of computer interface. It’s not yet confirmed if this scene takes place on ZDR or if it’s set in the present day. Additionally, screenshots show a Chozo relief that resembles both the living Chozo and the leader depicted in Chozo Memory 2D/10 in Samus Returns. Sakamoto has previously hinted that we’d find out more about that Chozo Memory in a future game, but at this point the connection is unconfirmed. 

End of the Metroid story arc

According to series producer Yoshio Sakamoto, Metroid Dread is going to change the story in a major way. Sakamoto has repeatedly stated that Dread will conclude the uncanny relationship between Samus and Metroids. After 35 years, it seems these living weapons will finally be put to rest. However, that doesn’t mean 2D Metroid is over! Instead, it seems Dread will end one story arc and kick off another

Exploring the game world

Metroid Dread comes from a long-running franchise with gameplay so iconic it spawned a genre half-named after it, the Metroidvania. Like its predecessors, Dread will feature a large, sprawling game world full of alternate paths and locked doors. As you explore and fight your way through the world, you’ll acquire new weapons and abilities, opening up more potential paths through planet ZDR. 

Metroid Fusion, the last all-new 2D entry in the series, was quite linear in its progression. Dread marks a return to form, as the dev team says we’ll “enjoy greater freedoms when exploring” than in the past. This is meant to encourage players to try new strategies each time they play. Although the AI version of Adam is back, he won’t be giving you orders as he did in Fusion. Nintendo has stressed that Samus is free to explore on her own terms. However, Samus can upload data to Adam, and in return, he’ll give her “lore” or “hints.”

Regions of Planet ZDR

Planet ZDR contains multiple distinct regions with their own unique environments and enemies. Here are all the areas we’ve seen so far.

Artaria

Located deeper below the surface than any other region, Artaria is the first place Samus explores. It contains a mixture of natural, rocky environments with organic life and more settled, metallic areas. Numerous large Chozo statues can be found throughout the area. Water-based puzzles seem to play a big role in this area, as several were shown in the early footage. 

Cataris

Cataris is the second region revealed in the early Metroid Dread footage. Here you can find some kind of industrial plant powered by geothermal energy. Samus can re-route the energy in order to solve puzzles and open doors. Some rooms in this area are hot enough to damage Samus, suggesting a suit upgrade is needed. 

The most detailed map system yet

Metroid Dread has probably the most detailed and comprehensive map system in any 2D Metroid game. Icons and color-coded rooms help you easily identify areas of importance, and you can hover over locked doors to see which item is required to open them. The map even displays tiny environmental details, like which rooms have water in them, or which walls are lined with magnetic strips. 

Map rooms return to help you find your way, but they don’t reveal too much all at once. Instead, they simply show off the rough outline of areas you haven’t visited yet. As you travel through these new areas, they’ll be filled in with more detail on your map. You can even see which parts of a room you’ve explored, as they’ll have a darker shading on the map. So if you’re unable to reach the top-left corner of a room, for example, that corner will be a lighter shade on your map than the rest. You’ll also be able to place colored markers on your map to keep tabs on points of interest. 

Introducing the E.M.M.I. 

An Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier—or E.M.M.I.—is a highly agile research robot equipped with the ability to extract DNA. These bots belong to the Galactic Federation, and they were sent to planet ZDR to investigate the rumors of X parasites. However, they soon vanished, and they’ve become quite dangerous. 

Scattered throughout Metroid Dread you’ll find E.M.M.I. Zones, marked by pixelated doors and a white shade on your map. If you step inside one of these areas an E.M.M.I. will begin seeking you out. None of your weapons hurt them, and if they catch you, they’ll kill you in a single hit. However, you have a slim chance of survival. When you’re in an E.M.M.I.s clutches, you’ll have an extremely brief window to counter their killing blow and escape. Additionally, all of the exits will be marked on your map, giving you a better chance of escaping. 

E.M.M.I. modes and abilities

Each E.M.M.I. has three modes, with increasing levels of aggression. In Patrol Mode, they glow with a blue light while wandering through their zone. If they hear a suspicious sound, they’ll switch to the yellow Search Mode and actively investigate. If Samus is spotted, the eerie red glow lets you know they’re in Pursuit Mode. In this mode, the doors will lock, so you’ll have to get out of sight long enough for them to return to Patrol Mode. 

Some of the E.M.M.I. bots have special abilities as well as distinct colors. Early footage reveals a lime green bot that can sit into tight spaces and a yellow bot with a power similar to the Speed Booster from past games. We’ve also seen a plain white E.M.M.I. and another that was heavily damaged and malfunctioning. In total, there are seven in the game. 

Fighting the E.M.M.I. 

Throughout ZDR, Samus will encounter bio-mechanical devices called Central Units. These bear a striking resemblance to Mother Brain, and Nintendo describes them as “mother computers managing each E.M.M.I. Zone.” Samus can take in power from a Central Unit to gain temporary access to the Omega Cannon. This is the only weapon capable of killing the E.M.M.I. bots. Check out a more detailed description of the Omega Cannon’s functions in the next section. 

Items, weapons, and abilities

Metroid Dread features a variety of collectible weapons and items, including favorites from the past and new additions. Likewise, Samus is sporting a mixture of classic abilities and new additions to her arsenal. Here’s what we’ve seen so far. 

Returning items from past games

  • Missiles
  • Morph Ball
  • Morph Ball Bombs
  • Charge Beam
  • Spazer Beam

New weapons and items

Omega Cannon

Samus can acquire the Omega Cannon as a temporary power-up by absorbing energy from a Central Unit. If you press L while holding the Omega Cannon, the camera shifts behind Samus, entering “aim mode.” You can then attack with two functions. Press Y to unleash the Gatling-like Omega Stream, which strips away an E.M.M.I.’s protective armor. Next, hold down the R button to charge up an Omega Blaster for the killing blow. Samus can’t move while using these attacks, so you’ll need to stare your foe down head-on. 

Spider Magnet

Throughout Metroid Dread, you can find blue magnetic strips lining the walls and ceilings of certain rooms. Samus can use the Spider Magnet ability to cling to these strips, climb to otherwise inaccessible locations, and even pull some platforms with her weight. She can also use the counter ability while hanging from one of these strips. 

New and returning abilities for Samus

As in past 2D Metroid games, Samus can run, spin jump, and ledge grab her way through obstacles. The wall jump ability also returns, and it seems to be performed with the simpler controls from Samus Returns.

MercurySteam previously added the Counter and Free Aim features in Samus Returns, but both required you to stand still. These abilities return in Dread, but you can now perform them on run. Countering on the run activates Dash Melee, which will damage the enemy. Additionally, Samus can now perform a slide to squeeze through small gaps without stopping. 

Aeon abilities

The Power Suit in Samus Returns could be upgraded with special Aeion abilities. This feature is returning in Dread, but MercurySteam has revamped it significantly. In Samus Returns, Samus replenished her Aeion Gauge by collecting orbs dropped by defeated enemies. In Dread, the Aeion Gauge naturally refills over time. It refills quickly when Samus is in motion, but slowly when she’s stationary. If Samus continues using an Aeion ability after the Gauge runs out, the ability will begin draining her energy (health) instead. If her energy reaches 1, the Aeion ability will deactivate. 

Phantom Cloak

The Phantom Cloak is a new Aeion ability that allows Samus to become invisible. This is especially useful for hiding from E.M.M.I. bots. You can also use it to unlock “Presence Doors,” which will only open if they fail to detect any nearby presence. If Samus stays still, the Phantom Cloak will deplete the Aeion Gauge slowly, but moving increases the depletion rate. Samus acquires this by defeating the boss Corpious in Artaria.

Bosses

While the E.M.M.I. are front and center on the marketing, they won’t be the only bosses. Metroid Dread includes traditional boss fights like past games as well. Here’s what we know about the early reveals. 

Corpious 

Corpious is a large, muscular creature encountered in the Artaria region of planet ZDR. You can catch glimpses of its cloaked figure in the background of several rooms before encountering it for a fight. Corpious attacks with its tail, acid breath, and green projectiles over the course of three phases. It can be damaged with Charge Beam shots and missiles, and defeating it grants Samus the Phantom Cloak. 

Central Unit

While the first Central Unit encounter in the game appears to be non-violent, a brief clip from the Development History trailer shows this isn’t the case for all of them. Around the 4:50 mark of the trailer, you can see an active Central Unit protected by a turret and Rinkas, much like Mother Brain in past games. Samus is able to damage it with missiles. 

Release date and options

Metroid Dread launches exclusively on the Nintendo Switch family of systems on October 8, 2021. The standard edition will be available at a suggested retail price of $60. 

Special edition and amiibo

There’s also a special edition that sells for $89.99. You can find listings for the special edition at Best Buy, GameStop, and Amazon, but they are not currently available. It’s unclear if Nintendo will be restocking this collector’s item before launch. The special edition includes:

  • A physical copy of the game
  • A steelbook case
  • 5 high-quality art cards with key art for each 2D Metroid game
  • A 190-page art book spanning all 5 entries in the 2D Metroid saga

Alongside the game, you can also purchase a Metroid Dread amiibo 2-pack. This 2-pack features Samus, sporting her new look, and an E.M.M.I. bot. It retails at a suggested price of $29.99 on October 8. You can find listings for the amiibo 2-pack at Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop. It is currently available and it’s unclear if Nintendo will restock again before launch.

Gameplay footage and trailers

While you wait for launch day, you can catch up on all of the officially released footage here.

 

 

Ben Lamoreux
Nintendo Enthusiast's Managing Editor. I grew up on Super Nintendo and never stopped playing. Been writing video game news, opinions, reviews, and interviews professionally for over a decade. Favorite franchises include Zelda, Metroid, and Mother.

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